My wife and I teach our kids to do three things with money. We created three money containers for both of our girls that say – GIVE, SAVE, and SPEND. We feel the three lessons below are the foundation of building wealth and being successful with money from the start. We often ask our girls (ages 3 & 5) what we do with money and it brings us so much joy that they understand these three lessons.
Lesson #1 – Always GIVE 1st. We teach our kids to give a portion of what we make to God first. This lesson is top priority in our family because He is the reason we have money, a house, and all the things in our house. This is the lesson that we feel is most important to teach our kids so they become generous givers and to understand that God owns it all. If we are to be good Stewards (managers) of His money, we can’t keep it all to ourselves.
Lesson #2 – Always SAVE 2nd. We teach our kids to always save for a rainy day and the things we want to purchase. We created the saving chain. Each link of the chain represents a large amount of money ($1,000) we save up each month using our zero based monthly budget numbers. The last day of each month we let the kids cut off the links and we explain to them why we save. We want our kids to experience the process of saving for large purchases (vehicles, vacations, or future home). We are teaching our kids the sinking fund approach to saving.
Lesson #3 – SPEND $$ on the things you NEED first before WANTS. This is a difficult lesson to follow not only for kids but also adults. I struggle with this lesson because I confuse wants vs. needs. I don’t really NEED a new golf club. I ask my kids if they really NEED that toy. The toy will still be there when they come back. If we can get our kids to think long and hard before spending the money they save, they will make better choices instead of impulse buying.
More is Caught than Taught
Our family is far from perfect. We try our best to teach our kids through example. Kids watch everything we do as parents and they won’t take us serious if we don’t practice what we preach. This is one of the reasons why we serve at our church and lead Dave Ramsey’s financial classes that teach these important lessons. We encourage you to keep it simple and follow these basic principles with your kids so your entire family can win with money.
Sean Saunders is the father of two lovely daughters who keep him loving and growing as a dad. He is also the husband of Jessica and an avid a golf and fitness instructor in Springfield, Missouri.